Edelman taps Williams as New York business, social purpose lead

Freya Williams, previously at Publicis Groupe, will serve as EVP and group head of business and social purpose in Edelman's New York office.

Freya Williams
Freya Williams

NEW YORK: Edelman has brought on Freya Williams, previously with Publicis Groupe, to serve as EVP and group head of business and social purpose in the firm’s New York office.

Williams, who will start in the role on June 23, will report to Ron Guirguis, MD of the agency’s New York corporate and public affairs practice. She will also collaborate with Carol Cone, global practice chair of business and social purpose at Edelman.

The role was previously handled by Michael Holland, who transitioned to Edelman’s corporate practice last year to lead the energy and industrials sector in New York, said an agency representative.

While leading a team of 25 staffers, Williams will focus on building the practice in New York by leveraging her experience in sustainable business efforts and behaviors.

"The role combines leading major client engagements, bringing in some new business, and thought leadership," explained Williams.

One of her goals is to "dial-up the external-facing thought leadership this year" to further establish and enhance Edelman’s business and social purpose practice, she said.

Williams added that larger agencies have the edge on their smaller counterparts in terms of social purpose work because of their scope.

"There are some small boutique firms doing excellent work, but it’s the big agencies that have the scale both globally and in terms of skill sets," she explained.

Most recently, Williams served as an SVP at Publicis Groupe for a little over a year.

Before that, she worked at Ogilvy for about 13 years, where she cofounded OgilvyEarth, the sustainability and CSR communications practice within the agency’s global communications network, in 2007. Williams’ final role at Ogilvy was senior partner and group planning director.

During her time at the WPP firm, Williams led all North American and global OgilvyEarth client efforts, including working on Hellman’s switch to cage-free eggs and Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle initiative.

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